Cedar brakes and drum solos

"We're gonna take a little break now, but we'll be right back," announces a member of the band. 

I'm on the Cedar Brake Loop Trail  at the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, a place where auditory amazement never goes back to the band bus for refreshments during the extended drum solos.  The smallest breeze keeps the branches of the cedars in constant percussive improv. It is Hansel and Gretel meet Mickey Hart. Standing still with eyes closed, I tried to imagine a night in the cedar brake, but it's too scary for a young thing like me.  It could be the set for a Washington Irving ghost story or Saint Saens' "Fossiles".

Wearing two sweatshirts on our third Snow Day it's hard to believe last Saturday families hiking at the Heard wore shorts, sleeveless tops, and sometimes flipflops.  It was over seventy degrees and absolutely perfect except that my camera battery was dead. 

A listening walk it must be.  Animatronic dinosaurs roared robotically to kid shrieks of joy.  Young parents bounced babies in strollers on the boardwalk trails.   Dried grasses rustled and crows dominated the airwaves with some sort of complaint always just beyond the next turn in the trail. 

What is a cedar brake?  It's not a cedar break.  Pulling out the old red dictionary I find definition fifteen for "brake"--An area overgrown with dense brushwood, briers, and undergrowth; a thicket.  (Related to "bracken" ferns, and "canebrake").

Unable to sort through the various cedar types and junipers, I recognize that the center of the Heard's cedar brake is a monoculture--nothing else grows there.  The ground under the trees is mostly mud.  Animals and birds seem scarce. 

Cedar choppers used to travel from brake to brake cutting down the rot-resistant trees for fence material, or converting it to charcoal.  My Snow Day googling has turned up Murray Montgomery's enlightening story of his cedar-chopping family roots. What a hard way to make a living.

Time for "The Other One", an 18:05 track.  There's time to reheat morning coffee in the microwave, stir in hot chocolate mix, and be back in time for "Me and My Uncle".

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder


Kathleen said...

1) I grew up with cedars in the front yard.

2) Recent confusing conversation about "brake" and "break" connected to car repair. I am glad to say my brakes are fine, and the break in my exhaust pipe is fixed.

3) I do that, too, with my coffee: reheat, add cocoa or International Coffee mix, etc.

Collagemama said...

We used those little blue berries from bushes to make our mudpies. Now I don't know if those were cedars or junipers.


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